The Russo Japanese War and the Revolution of 1905 overlapped, suggesting that perhaps the war emphasized some of the issues that were already fueling the revolution.
Beginning in January 1904, the Russo-Japanese War lasted until September 1905. Although the island nation of Japan was known to have a fairly strong navy, Russia was known to be the stronger power. Russia expanded across the continent, with much more land mass and citizenry than Japan. The problem that created the war was primarily over spheres of influence, most importantly concerning Korea. Japan wanted Korea to be included in its sphere of influence, while Russia wanted it to be a buffer zone between its sphere of influence in China and the other areas of Japanese influence.
Russia was expected to win, but they were instead totally defeated by Japan. One of the main reasons for Russian defeat was that the war was fought in the Japanese theater. Even though Russia spans so far east, the manufacturing and supplies were all in the East. All materials and supplies were shipped from St. Petersburg to the east through the Trans-Siberian Railroad. Russia was underprepared and overconfident, created a shocking defeat in September 1905.
The Revolution of 1905 began in January, nine months before the end of the Russo-Japanese War. The New York Times reported on how these efforts combined affected the global economy, in terms of Wall Street. They blamed the downturn on the “disturbances preceding the probable disappearance of the last civilized autocracy,” referring to the Russo-Japanese war and the beginning of the 1905 Revolution.
The Russo-Japanese War highlighted many of the problems that were plaguing Russian society and helped lead to the 1905 Revolution. The autocratic system, one of the last major ones, left its military ill-equipped for a war that the large empire should have won. The poor state of the military reflects on how the rest of society was struggling, and how industrialization was failing to meet the standards it needed to for Russia to be a strong power.
“Russia: A History,” Gregory L. Freeze
5 thoughts on “Japan & The 1905 Revolution”
I thought your use of the Russian-Japanese war as a foreshadowing event for the 1905 Revolution was creative. The lack of military readiness is a great representation of the overall failure of the Russian government at the turn of century.
The Russo-Japanese War is an interesting prelude to the 1905 Revolution. It was one thing for the Russian government to externally assert its power, using money for war instead of building its economy, but as you point out, it demonstrated how ill-equipped Russia was for war in doing so. Maria wrote a nice post on the specifics of the war: https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/mariahaas/2017/01/29/the-russo-japanese-war-1904-1905/
That’s a good connection you’ve drawn. I think the Russo-Japanese War certainly had an impact on the revolution. It could be seen as another failure of the Russian government as they ill-prepared to take on their enemy. And as you mentioned their overconfidence ultimately led to their fall to Japan.
I like the connection you made between the war and the subsequent revolution. It is interesting how successful wars can really bolster national pride and satisfaction in a country whereas disastrous wars can push a country to the brink of revolution. Very well done and an interesting read!
I like that you pointed out something that lead to the revolution rather than something that happened because of the revolution. I also found this aspect interesting when I was reading the chapter because it really gets into why some of the revolution happened. I think the events leading up to the revolution are just as important as the events during the revolution.